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Students build race car for competition

Mozes Zarate

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Members of the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers at Chico State run tests on the vehicle so that it can idle consistently. Photo credit: Nicholas Carr


A Chico State automotive engineering club is putting the finishing touches on a race car they’ve built from scratch.

In June, the group will race the machine against 80 other chapters from around the world at the Formula SAE Lincoln in Nebraska, said Josh Miranda, a mechatronic engineering major and head of the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers at Chico State.

Almost everything was built in-house at the engineering lab in Plumas 114, he said.

The car uses a motorcycle engine that the group bought out-of-pocket on Craigslist for around $500.

“Some [one] tried to put it in a quad and couldn’t get the chain tensioned and decided to sell the project,” the 22-year-old said. “It would have been a pretty bitchin’ quad.”

The car weighs around 600 pounds with a 100-pound steel frame. It can travel at 170 mph.

It started with nothing at first, Miranda said. The group spent a year drafting the design and spent another year manufacturing all the parts.

“We basically just started with a piece of aluminum, went off the design and put it altogether,” he said.

Chapters from colleges in Brazil, Japan and Canada will be competing with Chico State at the Formula SAE Lincoln, Miranda said.

The main goal is to finish the endurance race, he said, where the car will make laps around the track for a half an hour.

Only half of the machines ever finish the endurance race, he said.

The team will be testing the car until June and then it’s a 22-hour drive to the races, Miranda said.

“It’s been a lot of work,” he said. “A lot of late nights. A lot of stress. But it’s all worth it.”

Mozes Zarate can be reached at [email protected] or @mzarate139 on Twitter.

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Students build race car for competition